“Catfished” Tinder Swindler Victim Ayleen Charlotte shares her story.

From Fraud Victim to anti-Fraud Champion.

Well, everybody knows Ayleen from the documentary, The Tinder Swindler, but she had a life before that. Ayleen used to work in high -end fashion with brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Hugo Boss.

She met Simon on tinder, thought he was the love of her life, but he ended up the most horrible part of her life. Ayleen lives in Amsterdam. A beautiful city in the Netherlands, a very small country in Europe.

Romance fraud is one of the most horrible crimes and frauds there is because someone is making you fall in love with them. Someone is using love and the goodness of people to defraud them and scam them, which is horrible.

Fraudsters only have one goal and one purpose in life, they do their research deeply to find their pray. They work very hard to gain your trust, they make you emotionally depending on them, and create opportunities to build up pressure and fear. Eventually there is a crisis to make you want to support and to rescue them. This repeats it selve until you are completely empty. As a person, but also your wallet. By the time you are no longer useable, they disappear. They don’t care about you as a person; they only care about themselves and their own financial wins.

My story started on Tinder. Simon was very charming, well dressed, well presented. We had a coffee date in London, and I felt that we immediately had a connection. After our first date, we started to see each other more often. He visited Amsterdam a lot, and everywhere I was, he was. We travelled to Barcelona, London, Amsterdam, Prague, he was also very interested in my friends, my family, my work life. I received a lot of flowers, I thought he was the perfect guy, in the meantime I totally fell in love with him. 

 It was about seven months into the relationship, when he shared that he had lost a big business deal, because of his work in the diamond industry, and shared with me that he had a lot of enemies, it was after he lost this deal, his enemies were chasing him more than ever, or so he claimed, if they wouldn’t come to him, they would have come to me. They knew where I worked, where I lived, where my family lived. I was scared for my own life. So, the scam began, he needed to be undetected, therefore he needed a credit card which was not under his name and a place to stay, So naturally I offered him to move in with me.

Eventually, he used up all of my savings, he also persuaded me to take out two personal loans of 30,000 euros each, that wasn’t enough he kept on pushing me to get more money, and even suggested to me that I should sell my house and pawn my car. Every time he was working on an business deal he would get to step nine out of 10 and then the deal failed and after a year into the relationship his stories became more and more unbelievable.

Once I was waiting for my flight in Prague, I was scrolling down my phone and there I saw his face turning up on my own Instagram for the first time, there I read this article. It was called the “Tinder Swindler” from a Norwegian newspaper. Two other girls were sharing their story and they had been defrauded and lost a lot of money.  I immediately knew, every piece of the puzzle fell into place. I knew that he had defrauded me and I knew I was in a lot of trouble in all areas of my life.

I told my friends and my family, one by one what happened to me and they became my beacon of support and trust.

But I wasn’t finished with Simon, my  deepest anger was triggered. The only thing he could think of was money. So I suggested to him that we sell his expensive clothes and I would send him the money so he could continue and finish his business deals, so that’s what he did. He was very enthusiastic about this idea. He sent me pictures of all the clothes he had with him.

When I was contacted to be a part of the documentary, I really had to think about it for almost eight months but finally said yes. Within those eight months, I had a lot of discussions with my family and my friends. What people don’t understand is that this was a very sensational story, but this story hosts the worst pages of my life. Like, that’s something people don’t understand. Yes, this actually happened. This was my life, unfortunately.

When I finally say yes, I came up with three purposes and those became my mission for the rest of my life because I really wanted to help other people who were dealing with the same issues I had to been through, and I wanted to break down the taboo and the shame on fraud. The more we are sharing, the more we can do something about it.

At this moment I am sharing my story, and now I am providing trainings to fraud departments in companies and banks worldwide. Focusing on how they can react to fraud victims, which I think is very important because a lot of people really don’t know what to do when an actual victim gets in contact with them.

 A lot of people are sending you away because it’s too difficult to handle. Don’t be scared, listen to them, what I do at events like GISEC is share my story, making people aware that there is a human side behind these crimes. What we see in cyber security are a lot of people working from their laptops or computers, oblivious to the real impact of Cyber Crime and Fraud like this, but they have never heard it from someone who was actually been standing right in front of them. I’m sharing my story to make them more aware, because these crimes happen to real people never forget that.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that if you are in love with someone, and they create a situation were they need your help and they are asking you for money, please take your time, step away from the situation, go share this story with your family and friends, see what their opinion is.

This is not something you need to decide over an hour or over a day, take a few weeks, and of course, please say no if you’re not absolutely sure. But if you say, give me a few weeks, then please watch how this person in front of you is responding. If they are pushing you, not allowing you think rationally, then you will know it’s a scam, a real friend or a real family member asking you for money, of course they would give you time because they respect you. So please don’t make the same mistakes I did.